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A Beautiful Wedding: Chapter 9



A buzzing pulled me out of a deep sleep. The curtains kept out all but the slivers of sun bordering them. The blanket and sheets were hanging halfway off our king-size bed. My dress had fallen off the chair onto the floor, joining Travis’s suit that was scattered all over the room, and I could only see one of my high heels.

My naked body was tangled with Travis’s, after the third time we consummated our marriage we passed out from sheer exhaustion.

Again with the buzzing. It was my phone on the nightstand. I reached over Travis and flipped it over, seeing Trent’s name.

Adam arrested.

John Savage on the list of dead.

That was all he said. I felt sick as I deleted the messages, worried that maybe Trent didn’t offer more because the police were at Jim’s now, maybe even telling their dad that Travis might be involved. I glanced at the time on my phone. It was ten o’clock.

John Savage was one less person to investigate. One more death for Travis to feel guilty about. I tried to remember if I’d seen John after the fire broke out. He was knocked out. Maybe he’d never gotten up. I thought of those frightened girls Trent and I saw in the hall of the basement. I thought about Hilary Short, who I knew from calc class, and was smiling as she stood next to her new boyfriend near the opposite wall of Keaton Hall five minutes before the fire. How long the list of the dead really was and who was on it was something I’d tried not to think about.

Maybe we should all be punished. The truth was, we were all responsible, because we were all irresponsible. There is a reason why fire marshals clear these kinds of events and safety precautions are taken. We ignored all of that. Turning on a radio or the television without seeing the images on the news was impossible, so Travis and I avoided them when possible. But all this media attention meant investigators would be all the more motivated to find someone to blame. I wondered if their hunt would stop with Adam, or if they were out for blood. If I were a parent of one of those dead students, I might be.

I didn’t want to see Travis go to jail for everyone’s irresponsible behavior, and right or wrong, that wouldn’t bring anyone back. I had done everything I could think of to keep him out of trouble, and I would deny his presence in Keaton Hall that night to my dying breath.

People had done worse for those they loved.

“Travis,” I said, nudging him. He was facedown with his head buried under a pillow.

Uggggghhhhh, he groaned. “You want me to make breakfast? You want eggs?”

“It’s just after ten.”

“Still qualifies as brunch.” When I didn’t respond, he offered again. “Okay, an egg sandwich?”

I paused, and then looked over at him with a smile. “Baby?”


“We’re in Vegas.”

Travis’s head popped up and he flipped on the lamp. Once the last twenty-four hours finally set in, his hand emerged from under his pillow and he hooked his arm around me, pulling me beneath him. He nestled his hips between my thighs, and then bent his head down to kiss me; softly, tenderly, letting his lips linger on mine until they were warm and tingly

“I can still get you eggs. Want me to call room service?”

“We actually have a plane to catch.”

His face fell. “How much time do we have?”

“Our flight is at four. Checkout is at eleven.”

Travis frowned, and looked over at the window. “I should have booked an extra day. We should be lying in bed or by the pool.”

I kissed his cheek. “We have classes tomorrow. We’ll save up and go somewhere later. I don’t want to spend our honeymoon in Vegas, anyway.”

His face screwed into disgust. “I definitely don’t wanna spend it in Illinois.”

I conceded with a nod. Couldn’t exactly argue that. Illinois wasn’t the first place that came to mind when I thought honeymoon. “St. Thomas is beautiful. We don’t even need passports.”

“That’s good. Since I’m not fighting anymore, we’ll need to save where we can.”

I smiled. “You’re not?”

“I told you, Pidge. I don’t need all that when I have you. You’ve changed everything. You’re tomorrow. You’re the apocalypse.”

My nose wrinkled. “I don’t think I like that word.”

He smiled and rolled onto the bed, just a few inches from my left side. Lying on his stomach, he pulled his hands under him, settling them under his chest, and he lay his cheek against the mattress, watching me for a moment, his eyes staring into mine.

“You said something at the wedding . . . that we were like Johnny and June. I didn’t quite get the reference.”

He smirked. “You don’t know about Johnny Cash and June Carter?”

“Sort of.”

“She fought him tooth and nail, too. They fought, and he was stupid about a lot of stuff. They worked it out and spent the rest of their lives together.”

“Oh yeah? I bet she didn’t have Mick for a dad.”

“He’ll never hurt you again, Pigeon.”

“You can’t promise that. Just when I start settling in somewhere, he shows up.”

“Well, we’re going to have regular jobs, broke like every other college student, so he won’t have a reason to sniff around us for money. We’ll need every dime. Good thing I still have a little left in savings to carry us through.”

“Any ideas where you’ll apply for a job? I thought about tutoring. Math.”

Travis smiled. “You’ll be good at that. Maybe I’ll tutor science.”

“You’re very good at that. I can be a reference.”

“I don’t think it’ll count coming from my wife.”

I blinked. “Oh my God. That just sounds crazy.”

Travis laughed. “Doesn’t it? I fucking love it. I’m going to take care of you, Pidge. I can’t promise that Mick will never hurt you again, but I can promise that I’ll do everything I can to keep that from happening. And if it does, I’ll love you through it.”

I offered a small smile, and then reached up to touch his cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you,” he said right back. “Was he a good dad . . . before all that?”

“I don’t know,” I said, looking up at the ceiling. “I guess I thought he was. But what does a kid know about being a good parent? I have good memories of him. He drank for as long as I can remember, and gambled, but when his luck was up, he was kind. Generous. A lot of his friends were family men . . . they also worked for the mob, but they had kids. They were nice and didn’t mind Mick bringing me around. I spent a lot of time behind the scenes, seeing things most kids don’t get to see because he took me everywhere then.” I felt a smile creep up, and then a tear fell. “Yeah, I guess he was, in his own way. I loved him. To me, he was perfect.”

Travis touched his fingertip to my temple, tenderly wiping the moisture away. “Don’t cry, Pidge.”

I shook my head, trying to play it off. “See? He can still hurt me, even when he’s not here.”

“I’m here,” he said, taking my hand in his. He was still staring at me, his cheek against the sheets. “You turned my world upside down, and I got a brand-new beginning . . . like an apocalypse.”

I frowned. “I still don’t like it.”

He pushed off the bed, wrapping the sheet around his waist. “It depends on how you look at it.”

“No, not really,” I said, watching him walk to the bathroom.

“I’ll be out in five.”

I stretched, letting all of my limbs spread in every direction on the bed, and then I sat up, combing my hair out with my fingers. The toilet flushed, and then the faucet turned on. He wasn’t kidding. He would be ready in a few minutes and I was still naked in bed.

Fitting my dress and his suit in the carry-on proved to be a challenge, but I finally made it work. Travis emerged from the bathroom and brushed his fingers across mine as we passed.

Teeth brushed, hair combed, I changed and we were checking out by eleven.

Travis took pictures of the lobby ceiling with his phone, and then we took one last look around before leaving for the long taxi line. Even in the shade it was hot, and my legs were already sticking to my jeans.

My phone buzzed in my purse. I checked it quickly.

Cops just left. Dad’s @ Tim’s but I told them you guys were in Vegas getting married. I think they fucking bought it.


Yeah! I should get an Oscar for that shit. JS

I breathed a long sigh of relief.

“Who’s that?” Travis asked.

“America,” I said, letting the phone slip back into my purse. “She’s pissed.”

He smiled. “I bet.”

“Where to? The airport?” Travis asked, holding his hand out for mine.

I took it, turning it enough so that I could see my nickname on his wrist. “No, I’m thinking we need to make a pit stop first.”

One of his eyebrows pulled up. “To where?”

“You’ll see.”


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